Oh so pretty!

To the wise man who told me, “Don’t bring in the kitten from the cold if you want a clean couch,”

Boy, oh boy, I have some lush stories for you today. Lately, I’ve been following the advice of the Shabu-shabu tribe, and started “painting my life with rainbows.” In other words, I have tried to experience a diverse range of ‘stuff.’ I’ll tell you about a white-sand island that was blessed with my presence. Furthermore, I hear you want a ‘profile’ of the typical exchange student. Also, there are some nifty sayings that I think you should use with your German friends. Finally, maybe it’s best you don’t come to Thailand at the moment, as it’s raining a lot.

Another island holiday. More beach. More ocean. More sun. More swimming. More relaxing. More beach parties. More mosquito bites… what a life! As they say in Brisbane, “If only that was a Facebook page, we could all ‘like’ it!” My beautiful Swiss friend, Stefanie, and I decided to escape to Koh Samet, a ‘National Park’ island three hours from Bangkok, for a romantic weekend. It is a really beautiful island, which is hard to imagine considering its proximity to such a smelly city! Furthermore, I wrote ‘National Park’ in speech marks to show that in Thailand there is nothing like a cheeky bribe to allow development in a protected area. The highlights included hiking the length of the island (+/-) whilst exploring the beautiful shores, and then kayaking out into the depths of the ocean and swimming with… ourselves! In terms of partying, there is something about dancing on the beach the screams “Freedom” – and I’m not talking about the feeling of freedom when you are swimming naked (although, that did feel good), rather the feeling of freedom I’m sure you have post-shower after hiking through the Peruvian jungle for three days… so fresh! So lush!

The beautiful beach....

Sam and Stefanie!

Of course, since I’m on a cultural exchange, I need to appreciate the life lessons one learns day-to-day. The three key takeaways from this weekend were: 1) Thai dogs lie differently to New Zealand dogs, 2) Developing countries have many more, much larger billboards on their motorways, and 3) When you are on the beach at 4am with someone, be warned of security-guard flashlights, lightning strikes and scary thunder…. in the words of Darren Hayes:

“Breathe in, breathe out, there is no sound,
LIGHTNING FLASH! **BANG, BANG**
We move together up and down
FLASHLIGHT
We levitate, our bodies soar
HUGE LIGHTNING FLASH! **BANG, BANG, BANG** FLASHLIGHT
Our feet don’t even touch the floor.”
LIGHTNING FLASH! *BANG*

The way my dog lay down in New Zealand

The preferred lying position of Thai dogs

With Stefanie and many other exchange students speaking German, I’ve managed to pick up on a bit of the lingo. Many German sayings are so groovy when translated into English! In fact, if you have some German friends, I think they’d really appreciate it if you used the following phrases in context…

Germanlish – English
I’m fox devil wild – I’m really mad
Come on! Jump over your shadow – Be brave
Now it goes around the sausage – It’s crunch time
You walk me animally on the cookie – You are really getting on my nerves
I fell from all clouds – I was really surprised
I think my pig whistles – I cannot believe it
I cannot dare my ears – I cannot believe it
Did you eat a clown for breakfast? – You are being really funny today.
I understand just train station – I don‘t get it
My lovely Mr. Singing Club – Holy moly
I have an ear worm – There is a song stuck in my head.

As you say, LOTI!!! (Laughing on the inside)

But who are these German’s? Who are these exchange students? How do they think? Why are they in Thailand? Questions like this are best answered by reading, “Things Bogans Like.” The term Bogan, however, has many negative connotations, so we will call these young creatures Xcited Exchange Students (XES). And yes, the acronym is sex spelt backwards because that’s what the XES’s are all about. These wild animals, many of whom are experiencing life outside of captivity for the first time, are ready to experience the local cuisine… and when I say cuisine, I’m not talking about a Pad Thai ordered mild from Koh San Road with a bucket of poison and coke. For the boys, it seems none of the female XES’s are that into them. They’ve tried, they’ve failed, and now they’ve moved onto a more ‘cultural’ experience. From what I’ve heard (and I’ve heard some interesting things)… let’s just say there seems to be quite the difference in traditional mating ceremonies between species. For the girls, the XES’s are a bit gross; not quite boyfriend material. But neither are the Thai boys it seems – apparently they just aren’t tall enough and lack that ‘hunter-gatherer’ macho-ness. En fait, I’m constantly reminded of the Wivenhoe Dam here… the pressure and tension is starting to over-flow! Nonetheless, most of the XES’s have received a Thai-tan (i.e. got very sunburnt in that English-person in Turkey kind of way), and can boast a repertoire of experiences such as elephant riding, temple touring, full moon parties, bargaining to save five cents, buying a ‘7-Eleven’ or a ‘Chang Beer’ singlet, and of course, we wouldn’t be in Thailand if someone didn’t get an elephant tattoo when they were drunk – la classe américaine (that’s for you, Dani :-P). Studying, exams and grades are more a complementary part of the exchange, with pretty much everyone who isn’t German feeling quite blasé about school life. But they’re a cool bunch of guys and girls, eager to experience the western-Asia as much as possible (with a little bit of real-Asia).

– It’s really hard to link some topics, so please excuse the awkward jump – Unless you think this is okay:
While you may still be rolling on the floor laughing from the German sayings, some Thai people currently have no dry floor to roll on, and they are not laughing…

Currently there are large floods over South-East Asia. In Thailand, 10 provinces are being evacuated and 260 people have died. The flooding is starting to hit Bangkok, and 700,000 sandbags have been ordered. Having being in Brisbane for the floods in January and now being here, it’s interesting to note the difference in reactions. I can’t tell if it is just because I was more involved in the Brisbane floods, but life in Bangkok seems to be carrying-on as normal. In Brisbane I felt like Queensland closed down for the week and panic was wide-spread. From the photos below (which I stole from the newspaper), you can see how some Thai’s have reacted differently to the situation…

A casual meal in the flood water.

Fanned Elephant Tours Through Flooded Towns-a niche

You know I love you,

XO XO

P.S. Don’t worry, we can still be friends even though Australia will lose against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final. When I tell myself that it’s like charity, I find I still want to talk to you.

... the winners.

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